Andy Messerschmidt

Herald-Review: Can you give us a little background about yourself? How did you start making art?

A.M.: I am a painter with a few series of work branching into everything from pen and ink drawing to mixed media installations with plastic Easter grass. The current body of work exhibited at the MacRostie Art Center is comprised of painted landscapes that act as a metaphorical stage backdrop to various cultural admixtures and appropriations. I am from the small agricultural community of Manito, Ill., but have inevitable wandered north to my current home in Ely, Minn. My last academic training was through graduate research at the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities in painting and drawing. My first educational foray into oil paint occurred when I was nine, in the upstairs of a local craft store called the Country Bumpkin.

Herald-Review: How would you describe your art? How about your process for creating artwork?

A.M.: The main focus of my work over the last 20 years has revolved around pattern-based abstraction. Employing cut and patterned fabric on routered MDF panels, this series has in some way or another revolved around the viewing lens of the Indian system of Yantra with its focus on seemingly mundane and simplified objects working toward an inevitable prospect of grandeur and larger meaning. Metaphorically, I believe art mimics this process. The scope of the current ‘Agroccult’ series paintings at the MacRostie is a considerable side project, however, and stands in as metaphoric daily push-ups in paint and asymmetry as I’ve left behind these processes in my other bodies of work.

Herald-Review: What inspires you as an artist?

A.M.: Armchair Anthropology. Theories on Globalization. Cultural Collapse and co-mingling.  Cultural Appropriation. The dichotomous relationship between the Utopian and Dystopian. Cults. Messianic Complexes and their various tropes. Science Fiction in theory and the Netflix series ‘Black Mirror.’ Somehow, I can’t quite read science fiction books though.

Herald-Review: What is your art philosophy, and how does that translate to your work?

A.M.: Basically, walking the thin line between being an investigative, engaging, culturally cross-pollinating working artist hoping to pull inspiration and references from the wellspring of the world at large, but at the same time, not trying to offend those who swear by the rites of their own culture. My views of culture mirror the quote by ethnopharmacologist Terence McKenna when he said ‘Culture is not your friend.’ The divisive nature and pride behind all of the world’s segregated cultures, at times, is our worst enemy in Earth’s evolution.

Herald-Review: Finally, can you talk briefly about "Agroccult" on display at the MAC? What was the inspiration for this exhibit? Why do you think audiences should view this work?

A.M.: The ‘Agroccult’ series has been ongoing as a side project for the last 20 years. Somehow, it has gradually morphed into what it is at present. It probably cross-references my other series of paintings and their far-reaching grasps at alternative media. I follow national news coverage sporadically but I am still in awe at political and national glimpses into xenophobia. A few of the paintings at the MacRostie involve the most severe meme of the Other in the form of the extraterrestrial. There are a few paintings pertaining to alien abductions and even vignettes of the 1980s arcade game invader from space: Galaga!

Herald-Review: What do you hope audiences take away from this particular exhibit?

A.M.: As always: Some questions… some answers…!

See Andy Messerschmidt’s latest exhibit, “Agroccult,” on display at the MacRostie Art Center in the MacRostie Gallery until the end of March.


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